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If power conditioners are glorified power strips...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Rob Mancini, Mar 7, 2008.


  1. Rob Mancini

    Rob Mancini Guest

    Feb 26, 2008
    ...how come mine gets rid of electrical interference at my house when every power strip I have doesn't?

    Mine's just a basic little Furman RP-8 power conditioner. I only bought it to tidy up my rack a little. I had heard all about what a ripoff they were, but I still wanted one because it looked nice in the rack, so I bought the bottom of the line model. I've never been one for playing through an amp at home until recently when I totally revamped my stage rig, so it was only then I noticed that all my basses picked up electrical interference that came through the amp, especially if I took my hand off the strings. At first, I was plugging directly into the wall or one of the 5 power strips I have. The noise was always there. Yesterday I broke out my Furman just to see what would happen. The noise was gone. I plugged the amp directly into the wall again. The noise was back. Back into the Furman. The noise was gone. Tried it with two other amps and got the same results.

    So now I'm wondering if there's more to these power conditioners than people say. If not, how come my equipment got quiet with it and noisy without it?
     
  2. DanielleMuscato

    DanielleMuscato

    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Because they're not the same thing.

    A power strip (aka a surge protector) provides multiple outlets to the same plug and safeguards equipment by putting a fuse in between the wall and the equipment, but it doesn't do anything to clean up the power.

    Think of it like a fan versus an air conditioner. A fan moves air around but it doesn't *do* anything to the air. An air conditioner filters the air (actually extracting heat by running it through a refrigeration cycle).

    Similarly, a power conditioner eliminates line noise by filtering the power. Line noise can come from all sorts of sources - faulty wiring, fluctuation in AC current, interference from other equipment like computers or lighting, etc. A power conditioner isolates each outlet to eliminate cross-talk. It does all of this in addition to acting as a surge protector. Some rackmount units also have built-in (noise-free) lighting for your rack, a tuner, a metronome, etc.

    Bottom line, if you have heard people say that a power strip/surge protector and a power conditioner are the same thing, well... they are simply wrong. I didn't think it was really a mystery as much as ignorance. Hope this helps,
     
  3. I was under the impression that the majority of TBer's think power strip = Furman's conditioners...
     
  4. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    A well designed amp should have enough filtering in the power supply to not need a power conditioner and most high power amps will exhibit too much current draw at peak demand for a power conditioner to supply. Power conditioners cannot solve fluctuations in AC voltage (not current) - voltage regulators can do that but at much greater cost and weight. Some rack systems will suffer from ground loops - maybe this is what your power conditioner solved?

    Alex
     
  5. Jazzman

    Jazzman

    Nov 26, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    Rob, what model amp is creating the noise? (Your profile is blank.) I am wondering if it is a modern or old amp...I believe most of the comments are to the effect that modern amps already have adequate filtering built in.
     
  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Get an outlet tester.
     
  7. optikhog

    optikhog

    Apr 2, 2007
    St. Peters, MO
    Maybe yer power strip has a broken ground wire?
     
  8. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Be careful of the semantics used here. A basic Furman power conditioner is really no different than a QUALITY power strip.

    The difference in your situation is that you used a CHEAPIE power strip with no RF/EMI filter. That's "radio frequency/electromagnetic interference" filtration, which is just a two-dollar component in the strip. Furman's got 'em, so do quality outlet strips. Cheapie outlet strips usually don't.
     
  9. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Removal of minor line noise is accomplished via a shunting capacitor, cost 50 cents or less. They are already present in virtually every piece of gear made. Removal of severe line noise is accomplished with a twin-T filter, cost $10 or less. They are already present in most high quality gear, and in most line filters. Their effect is cumulative with cascading, so a filtered outlet center can give an additional reduction in noise, especially when used on outlets that aren't properly grounded/wired. So long as you aren't paying a fortune for them they're worth having. OTOH, just as with cables, there is a point of diminishing returns of how much extra benefit is gained for extra $ spent. With cables that point comes at about a dollar a foot, with line filters that point comes around $100.
     
  10. eh, i still like how much cleaner my rack is with my furman m-8, and hell, for the $20.00 i paid for it new, could have gotten a quality power strip for that?
     
  11. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Maybe, but the phrase 'power conditioner' has become so ubiquitous that it's now being applied to just about anything with a couple of outlets and a cord, and shy of opening them up there's no way to know what's inside. :meh:
     
  12. Rob Mancini

    Rob Mancini Guest

    Feb 26, 2008
    Little Mark II, SM-500 and SVT 3 Pro. Same results in all.

    And though most of the power strips I used were cheapos, one was close to $25 and still made the noises.

    Nice to know that there actually IS a reason why these power conditioners may be better than a power strip. Some of these power conditioner threads made them sound like a complete ripoff. Maybe the $200 ones are complete ripoffs. It sounds like I did pretty good spending only $50 ;)
     
  13. eedre

    eedre

    Feb 26, 2007
    St. Louis,MO
    Actually, a lot of quality "surge protector" power strips cost $40 and more...
     
  14. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Maybe your equipment is defective?
     
  15. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    The real issue (as Bill Fitzmaurice pointed out) isn't a technological one, its a semantical one. The units that get labeled as "power conditioners" may not be anything but a few outlets in a box.
     
  16. Ben B

    Ben B

    Jul 13, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    +1. As others have said, I think the key is a good quality power strip or conditioner.

    I use an SVT3Pro as well. With cheaper power strips or no power strip, my amp often makes an annoying POP when other equipment is powered up, and at some places, I hear a little electrical noise. With my $60 Furman, no pop and less noise.

    Ben
     
  17. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
  18. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    My concern is that whatever the power conditioner is doing, is masking the effect of an improperly grounded outlet. I think it's always worthwhile to check one's outlets when there are issues of this nature.
     
  19. peterbright

    peterbright

    Jan 23, 2007
    On The Bayou

    Some of the loudest do, but not all of us. Just like cables...benefits are overstated but differences are there. You can buy a power strip with filters as well.
     
  20. kdogg

    kdogg

    Nov 13, 2005
    Ohio
    Most quality power conditioners, and some of the better power strips, have LED's that indicate whether you have a proper ground and correct polarity. If not, you can pick up an outlet tester at most Lowe's or Home Depots. The old clubs and bars that many of us play in aren't always wired properly, and the above devices can save you alot of hassle, and even prevent possible shock hazards, as fdeck notes above. Great advice! :D
     

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